Women directors on the path toward parity, but progress on diversity in corporate Canada remains uneven

Andrew MacDougall, John M. Valley, Jessie Armour, Aliza Zigler

Oct 11, 2023

While progress has been uneven and much work remains to be done, efforts by Canadian public companies to increase the diversity of their leadership have, in recent years, begun to bear fruit.

Osler’s ninth annual comprehensive report, 2023 Diversity Disclosure Practices: Diversity and leadership at Canadian public companies, analyzes diversity disclosure by TSX-listed companies and corporations governed by the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA) subject to disclosure requirements. As in previous years, the report provides detailed information on TSX-listed companies to show year-over-year comparisons as well as chapters summarizing the results of our review of CBCA company disclosure. We also highlight best practices to improve diversity and inclusion among boards and executive teams, as well as samples of excellence in disclosure.

The proportion of women on Canadian boards and in executive officer positions continues to increase at an encouraging rate. Among 532 vacant or newly created board positions, a woman was chosen to fill it 45.3% of the time — a sign that Canadian companies are nearing the rate at which women would, over time, achieve parity.

Beyond gender, more members of visible minorities are sitting on boards and in C-suites than ever before. Representation of Indigenous peoples and persons with a disability remains sparse at both levels, however, with virtually no progress since last year.

Key highlights from the report include

  • Women now hold 29% of board seats among all TSX-listed companies disclosing the number of women directors on their boards.
  • At S&P/TSX 60 companies, women hold 38.2% of all board seats.
  • At S&P/TSX Composite Index companies, women hold 36.2% of all board seats.
  • 8.1% of the time, the chair of a TSX-listed company is a woman.
  • 5.2% of the time, the CEO of a TSX-listed company is a woman.
  • Members of visible minorities hold 10.2% of CBCA public company board seats.
  • Indigenous peoples hold 17 CBCA public company board positions.
  • Persons with a disability hold 12 CBCA public company board positions.
  • 45% of TSX-listed companies have targets for women directors.
  • 11.4% of TSX-listed companies have targets for women executive officers.

Our 2023 Diversity Disclosure Practices report, conducted by Osler’s Corporate Governance Group, is an extensive review and analysis of diversity disclosure by CBCA and TSX-listed companies, with summarized survey results for full-year 2022 and the period January 1 to July 31, 2023. The report also highlights best practices for improving diversity among boards and executive teams, as well as samples of excellence in disclosure.

Research methodology

Data presented in our 2023 Diversity Disclosure Practices report was obtained by surveying public disclosure documents filed on SEDAR by all TSX-listed companies other than venture issuers, exchange-traded funds, closed-end funds and structured notes, including CBCA corporations that are listed on the TSX. The data presented in this report in response to the CBCA requirement was obtained by surveying public disclosure documents filed on SEDAR by “distributing corporations” governed by the CBCA, including venture issuers, that are subject to that requirement. Generally speaking, a “distributing corporation” is a corporation with publicly traded securities. Research methodology is detailed in the report in chapter 8.

Further analysis

Interested in learning more about diversity in corporate Canada? Read our full report or contact Andrew MacDougall or John Valley in Osler’s Corporate Governance Group.